By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a new chapter for the University of Minnesota football team.

The first time PJ Fleck will meet the Big 10, against Maryland on Saturday. As WCCO’s Mike Max reports, they do have a quarterback who understands what it takes to beat the Terrapins. He did it last year.

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The last time we saw Fleck, he had landed in a helicopter and was taking a golf cart to a high school football game, creating a buzz.

“The reason for going there just so everybody knows is the efficiency to be able to go see recruits. It’s not just to make an impact and to create a lot of wind around a high school stadium,” Fleck said.

The here and now is preparing for a game against Maryland, preparing for the Big 10. What he’s seen from his team has created an optimism about his defense.

“They’re playing with exceptional how and that’s what we want our team to do. The Xs and Os, that’s the scheme we have, but how hard they’re playing, that’s what inspires me,” Fleck said.

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Coming into this season, the Gophers had just one quarterback with previous starting experience. That was Conor Rhoda. He had played one game in his career. And that game was against Maryland.

He remembers it well. What he thought might be his only college start was a win.

“You know I’m going to be just as nervous as I was then as I’m going to be this week. Just because I care and want so badly for us to play well, perform and come out with a win,” Rhoda said. “But it’s not nerves that really affect me.”

But this is now about proving he belongs in the Big 10 every week. He’s got experience, but he still has the same feeling, those same butterflies.

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“Those memories and those emotions and talking to my family and close friends of mine, those that have been with me through the whole journey,” Rhoda said.

Mike Max